These Days…

These days I am working on my blues/swing 12/8 time. I had a long discussion with the Professor and decided after just about five years I feel like it is time to veer off and really work on a specific genre of music I love and can see myself playing in the future with a lot of joy. The idea of playing anywhere outside of the basement terrifies me yet I am so hopeful that once I feel more confident with my abilities in other words….very sure….I will be chomping at the bit to mix it up with some like minded folks.

Last Saturday was Record Store Day and I made my pilgrimage to my local shop to pick up some items: “The Charlie Parker Story”; for my Jazz girls, Ghost Song/Drums; special release “Honor the Treaties” produced by John Densmore and Keith Secola; Lyrics by Jim Morrison & music by the Doors; vocals by Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman and John Densmore, Greg Allman special release for RSD & Lucinda Williams; “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.”

Which leads me to…going to see Lucinda Williams this week mostly because I think her drummer; Jonathan “Butch” Norton is something special to watch. In the videos I have seen his percussion is not limited to the set. He integrates all kinds of other percussion instruments and he looks so darned relaxed doing so. I am a wee bit worried he is not on tour with her this time around but really hoping he will be there!

Drum Head Magazine

Picked up a copy of this awesome magazine this month. Boy, was I happy to see there was an article called Micropause! Can you guess what that is? That strange thing I wrote about recently where I feel like there is a disconnect between hands and head when playing. It can seem miniscule but it is a hiccup which can easily cause a drummer to get off the beat and rush to catch up and perhaps to the untrained ear it would not be noticed but when I am playing it feels awful. The reasons for a Micropause are obvious especially for a novice like me but it was comforting to know that others out there experience it too!

Meaty interview with Mark Giuliana who is the drummer on one of the songs I am currently listening to A LOT; When I Met You off of David Bowie’s last album.

Worth a read.

Lesson

Had a lesson this past week. Spent a lot of time on “music theory” and trying to understand correct terminology and ways of writing down drum parts to songs. (read: eyes glaze over and brain short circuits) It is befuddling to my old lady brain no matter how much I try to make sense of it. Sometimes by about the fourth or fifth time the light bulb goes on but other times still lost.

Still on Steely Dan but now have a new fill to learn and unfortunately I am not getting it. My hands are getting tangled and transitioning from the fill back into the groove is waaaaay more tricky than my abilities. Counting helps but not there yet. May need an intervention from the Professor. He did make a recording for me to play with and that is a great tool.

Tone-Loc still on my plate for improv practice. Slightly improving but doing the actual groove has stilted my ability to transition into fills easily. It literally feels like my brain just stops and hands and brain out of sync.

Ahhh, the shuffle groove…Ten Long Years…this is my happy place. This is one that is making me feel like I am accomplishing something and I can see how far I have come along over these five long years. I cannot wait until I can play the shuffle faster!

Still trying to pick up bpm in reading exercise…105 appears to be my max. 110 the goal by next lesson. I keep trying but again I feel like my hands and brain out of sync!

 

Drum Duets!

Got to meet up with my elementary school music teacher today, Mr. Steve Calentropio for a wee bit of drumming and lunch. I sent him a duet to work on over the summer and I learned my part so that when we got together we could actually play. I am happy to report I held my own although he wanted to keep increasing the bpm from the prescribed 120 to 130 to 140! I was very afraid. I do not believe I have ever tried to play ANYTHING so fast before but I did try.

I feel lucky to still have a positive relationship with a teacher from my elementary school days. He was a special one.

A Weekend in Drummergirl(s) House

Friday night Dad had plans outside of the house which gave this Mom some free time to pick her daughters’ brains for some ways to improve her rolls. This impromptu session started the ball rolling into an informal drum off, dance session and overall music chaos! Nothing makes me happier. I love seeing all three of my kids in full on music mode. Dance parties reign. Agreeing on a song is not always easy though.

Sunday brought on the big drum head/bottom changing project and my youngest daughter was on hand to provide assistance. My older one was on hand to provide snarky commentary throughout the process. After reading and rereading the Pearl hand out on changing and tuning drum heads we also decided to use a Pearl tutorial on YouTube the first time out. This was very helpful. After that it was HGTV while we finished the job! They look and sound awesome. Looking forward to a long practice session soon.

Next practice plan

So after this week’s lesson I have a lot on my plate. Unfortunately for me my teacher took my improv song and turned it into a challenge. No longer free form for me! Have to do the actual beat and stops all while holding onto 3 measures and 1 measure improv fill. Sometimes my head and hands can’t keep it all going. Who am I kidding? A lot of times! This is a fast one. Note to self: don’t pick fast improv songs anymore in case the Professor pulls this stunt again.

Steely Dan: Black Cow: This is one I feel I have the beat down; verse vs chorus but once those fills get added in and I know it is coming I believe it will not be so easy.

Massive Attack: Teardrop: Off the hook? No mention this week but I am sure I am supposed to be clinging onto this one. (weird coincidence; out with a friend for lunch this week and this song came on…fairly obscure one, surprised-haunting me)

Reading exercise to the metronome still. Picking up speed. Relaxed is the key here people.

New to the roster this week: Shuffle groove to a song and none other than two of my long time favorite musicians together-BB King & Eric Clapton: Ten Long Years. This is in blues form which is a whole different ball game. It is measures of 12  with fill although there are a few tricks in there. Or at least I think so…where it is 4/fill & 8/fill and then the reverse. Drummer making sure we are paying attention. The one thing I wish I was able to conquer because there are a few in this song…faster rolls.

My music teacher from elementary school had to ditch today’s fun but I will continue on the duet in hopes we can finally catch up soon. My dynamics need work!

 

Last Night’s Lesson

Okay, so last night went pretty well despite the intimidation factor of having someone about two to three feet away staring at your every move. I received some “good job Ginger” comments which makes me very happy. Hard work paying off. I should mention I did have to take a brief break to go upstairs and give my children a well deserved reprimand for crazy loud screaming at each other which was VERY distracting while trying to have my lesson…their screams could be heard over my headphones which means it was very LOUD! I so look forward to my two lessons a month and really do not wish to have a minute wasted. Look for what I will be working on next posting soon…

Lesson Day TMO

Tmo a lesson day for all three gals in this house. I am currently working on a few things: one of the exercises I am given by the Professor involves listening to a song of his choice (sometimes his choice not one I can bear to listen to repeatedly and we haggle for one I can live with that fits the bill!) figuring out the bpm (beats per minute) on the metronome app on my Ipod, general beat/groove and fills. This is a challenge for me. I am currently on Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” and Steely Dan’s “Black Cow.” One is insanely fast and one is ridiculously relaxed. Can you guess which?

I also have been working on increasing my speed on a reading exercise from 90-95 with a goal of 100. Not there yet. 90 decent, 95 mostly decent, haven’t even tried 100.

My favorite right now because I am so hoping I will be solid on this soon; the shuffle groove. I am in the baby step phase right now but I am dying to get this one. It is in A LOT of songs I want to play! John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” So lucky to have seen him perform many moons ago in CA. I never tire of this song. It is often my reward after practicing the more technical items on my homework list.

I am also revisiting a snare duet in advance of hanging with my elementary school music teacher, Steve Calentropio later this week. I sent him a copy at the beginning of the summer so we could play together once we met up again and Friday is the day. Goodness knows we have enough snare drums. 🙂

Improv! Another challenge for me. I am not an improv girl. A mimic yes, but coming up with my own stuff, WHOA! I freeze. I am always trying to find songs to work to so that I will be inspired to challenge myself and keep this work up. This is helpful. This week’s choice; Tone-Loc , “Funky Cold Medina” and Lucinda William’s, “Righteously.” One a bit quicker and one a bit more relaxed.